Minot State University track and field coach Stu Melby admits his teams don't have the depth of the top programs in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference.
Rather than measure the success of his men's and women's squads by their placement in the team standings, Melby wants his athletes to focus on setting personal bests. If they continue to do that, some have the ability to compete near the top of the NSIC, which MSU joins this season.
"We're trying to build a nucleus and get going," Melby said. "We're trying to build some interest in the kids that we have. I think a lot of them have some great potential; a lot of them can be at this Northern Sun level."
Minot State University sophomore hurdler Tyler Flatland competes at the Dickinson State Blue Hawk Games in April 2012. Photo courtesy of Michael Linnell/MSU sports information.
The Beavers begin their indoor slate Saturday at the Bemidji State Super 8 Open, which features nine teams - including NSIC opponents St. Cloud State (Minn.), Minnesota Duluth, Bemidji State (Minn.) and the University of Mary.
One of the athletes the Beavers will count on to score points this season is junior pole vaulter Abbey Aide, who holds the school record for both outdoor (11 feet, 11.75 inches) and indoor (12-2.75) marks.
Aide sat out last season with a torn ACL, but said she is near her pre-injury form.
"It's been a long time since I've competed, so getting as (many) track meets as I can and getting used to the feel, the atmosphere, everything," she said. "That's mostly what I'm looking forward to."
The indoor season is relatively condensed, as the conference championship meet is barely more than a month away (Feb. 22).
The outdoor season is generally considered the more important segment of the schedule, with the indoor meets serving as a glorified warmup.
"It just gets us out running on the track before the outdoor season," MSU sophomore hurdler Tyler Flatland said.
Melby said the Beavers should have quality performers across several events.
"We don't have necessarily one event group that's gonna be dominant over the others," he said. "We have maybe one or two people in each event group, so it's kind of balanced."